Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Before the Semester

This information is intended to be most useful before a course begins, but may continue to be helpful, even after the term has started.

Some departments provide instructors with a “stock” syllabus, but if not, Teaching & Learning Innovation has syllabus templates for you to start with.

Often your department will have a pre-set textbook selection if you are teaching for the first time, or have been assigned a course close to the first day of classes.  However, if you have been given the option to designate your own course textbooks, take a look at this page on ordering textbooks.

Open educational resources (OER) are gaining popularity in higher education as a way to promote educational equity and reduce the costs associated with attending college. Croteau’s (2019) study, which took place in universities across the University System of Georgia, found that using OER textbooks in place of commercial textbooks saved students approximately $760,000.  At UTK, our libraries estimate that as of 2019, OER textbooks are saving all UTK students $800,000 every year. Studies have shown that OER textbooks are as effective as, or more effective than, commercial textbooks (Colvard et al., 2018; Croteau, 2019; Engler & Shedlosky-Shoemaker, 2018). Additionally, courses with OER materials showed a reduction in drop/fail/withdraw (DFW) rates and an improvement in overall grades, particularly among underrepresented student populations, Pell Grant recipients, and part-time students (Colvard et al., 2018; Croteau, 2019).  

UT uses Canvas as its learning management system (LMS).  You should be able to log in and access the Canvas system with your netID and password.  If you have trouble, see the Troubleshooting portion of this guide.

Don’t have your netID and password yet?  Check in with the OIT Helpdesk for more information.

The registrar’s office maintains the Academic Calendar page, which shows the primary course-related deadlines, and days when classes will be in session.

Many classrooms host advanced technology, and OIT offers primers on using those, and with related teaching issues. They maintain a page on using the devices in our technology-enhanced classrooms, and they also offer trainings and workshops on how to help students use technology, as well as how to maximize its effectiveness in our classes.

The UT Libraries are ready to assist you and your students in locating materials and making reserve materials (books or other media held at the reserve desk) available for your courses.

Most departments on campus will find office space for all faculty members, including those on temporary part-time contracts, but not all of these spaces will be ideal for you or your students.  Indeed, many students find office hours intimidating, particularly when they have a basic question that they fear will not reflect well on them. Many universities are working to reduce one of the psychological barriers that makes attending office hours so intimidating by asking professors to meet their students in more accessible, and neutral, spaces (Nadworny, 2019; Rentschler, n.d.).  

So, what type of space should you choose when selecting an alternative office space for meeting with students? Most universities select spaces where students are normally found, such as the library, the student union, or near tutoring centers (Nadworny, 2019; Rentschler, n.d). Another popular choice, especially during the pandemic, is offering virtual office hours via Zoom or a message board. These physical and virtual spaces help level out the power dynamic and the intimidation associated with speaking with a professor, which can increase the number of students attending office hours (Nadworny, 2019; Rentschler, n.d.). 

Although the University of Tennessee does not engage union contracts, there are local offices and chapters of several organizations. If you are interested in getting involved with the local offices of the Communications Workers of America or the American Association of University Professors, the links here provide more information about whom to contact.

Was this page helpful? Does it need more information or an update? Tell us about it!

This was helpful! This needs more!